It was everything I had hoped it to be, and more. I had never been with such a dynamic group- the youngest of us was 15, the oldest 41- yet not for a second did it feel “weird” or awkward. It was so obvious that God had called each of us there; trying to imagine the group with any one of us missing was impossible. The disciples from Nairobi made us feel like family almost immediately. Any “culture shock” was absorbed by their warmth and love- we were all Kenyans. This was even more visible at church service on Sunday. I was even more in awe that no matter what nation, culture, language, or generation we were all apart of, we all worshipped the same Jesus. And he made himself so visible throughout the trip.
I could go on for pages describing where we went, what we did, who we met, what it felt like, and how much I miss it all, but I’ll do my best to keep it succinct. My favorite thing about Jesus is how he spent so much time loving individuals, and my favorite part of any trip is the experiences I have with individual people, so that’s what I’ll talk about. On this trip, two women stole my heart. First, there was Joyce. A fierce and beautiful woman, Joyce lives in Makindu where we built houses out of mud and rock. As soon as we stepped off the bus, she wanted “pi-tures with Muzungu” (Muzungu being a white person, aka me). She was so confident, so fun, so strong, it was easy to see why she was the leader of the village. She started off our time with a prayer that I couldn’t understand, but the passion and devotion in her voice was impossible to miss. As we worked, she and the other women made us tea, stew, and chapatti (my mouth is watering just thinking about it) and kept us entertained. Actually, I should say we kept them entertained. A bunch of Muzungus coated in dust trying to learn how to make mud to build a goat house is quite a sight. But we felt their love for us, and we felt so much love for them. A few days later, when it was time to leave for Nairobi, Joyce was the one I knew I would miss the most. The HYC shared our experiences, and the village women shared how we had impacted them. Joyce, of course, was the first to share. Once she finished, she grabbed me by the arm, pulled me to her seat, and told me she wanted to give me something. She searched through her purse, trying to find something to give me, and handed me a blue papermate pen. A pen has never meant so much to me in my life, and it was a moment I will never forget. I hastily removed my necklace and put it around her neck, trying (and failing) to give her something that could match her gift. But Joyce wasn’t done. She grabbed me, wrapped her scarf around me, and made us take a picture (she’s a big fan of pictures). Afterwards, she looked at me and asked, “Do you know what this means? It means I am adopting you. You are my daughter now.” She then gave me her scarf. I brought it home with me, and I refuse to wash it. It smells like Kenya; it smells like Joyce. She gave me so much in the so short time that I was with her.
The second woman isn’t actually a woman- it’s a girl. Sharon, a 5 year old, who has been battling retinoblastoma for 2 years. When I met her, she had lost her right eye to cancer. Unlike the other children in the eye ward at Kenyatta Hospital, she did not have a fake replacement eye, but rather an empty lid. And she is the most beautiful girl in the whole world. On Day 1, she was reserved, shy, and definitely did not want to play with me; in fact, she could barely look at me. Her mother spoke broken English and told me that she wasn’t eating very much. Since there were few other kids in the ward at the time, and not many others spoke English, I decided to stick with Sharon and see if I could get a smile out of her. After much tickling, food “airplanes,” and silly faces, Sharon was giggling and eating and sassing me in Swahili. However, as soon as we joined up with the other children and started group songs of “Father Abraham” and “Baby Shark,” she shut down again. But we still had a few days left to bring her out of her shell, so on Day 2, I bee-lined for her again. It took a few moments for her to recognize me, but as soon as she did we were back to tickling and giggling. Her joy didn’t fade even when we joined up with the group. She ran around, threw a ball over and over again, sang all the group songs, played with the other kids, and tickled me while I screamed and ran away. I felt like a proud older sister watching her grow confident. But Day 3 brought our time at the hospital to an end. We gave everything we had left on that last day, and when it was time to leave, I could hardly look at Sharon without my heart aching. Every time I said goodbye and tried to walk away, she would come chasing after me, only to run away giggling again, trying to keep our game going. Eventually, though, I gave her one last hug and left. I knew she was leaving the hospital as cancer-free a few days later, which made me happy, but I also knew I would probably never see her again, which made me sad. She has a hard life ahead of her- weird looks, whispers behind her back, questions about her missing eye- and I doubt she’ll even remember me in a few years. But what I love about Youth Corps, or any form of service, it’s not really about whether my actions will be remembered. It’s about how I made people feel in the short time I was with them. I hope, I pray, that Sharon will remember how breathtakingly beautiful she is to me. I hope I made her feel confident in who she is, and that she keeps her sassy nature as she grows into a woman.
I can’t describe in enough detail everything that happened in my two weeks in Kenya, but my time there was beautiful and special and meaningful in every moment. I miss the place, the people, and the experience so dearly, and I will count down the days until I can see my beloved Kenya again.
Recently, a member of our community challenged our supporters and friends to raise a total of $50,000 by December 31, 2017, for HYC Scholarships. That donor would match what we raise dollar-for-dollar! The money raised to meet this challenge will help students with limited resources to experience this fantastic program.
We are thrilled to announce that with your help we were able to raise over $62,000 for this amazing program! This means that together with the match we raised over $112,000 for scholarships! Thank you all for the amazing support and generosity!
Our fundraising Champion this year was Melina Cruz who successfully raised over $5,000 for the HYC scholarship by having her volunteer hours paid for by her company. What a creative and resourceful way to raise money! Additionally, she is paying it forward by gifting her full scholarship prize to her little sister. Amazing.
Among the many benefits participants receive from serving on HYC are lifelong friendships and memories, a heightened sense of purpose, greater self-confidence and independence, and a better understanding of the world and cultural differences. Many who volunteer through HYC go on to become nurses, doctors, teachers, counselors, or work with HOPE worldwide and other NGOs to bring much-needed attention and assistance to the developing world. Through their experiences with HYC, student volunteers deepen their compassion and gain a profound appreciation for what they have been given in their own lives. Fundamentally, HOPE Youth Corps builds a future generation of leaders who seek to improve the lives of those in need. We are so excited to be able to send many more deserving students on an HYC this year. All glory to God!
If you would like to continue to support this fantastic program, please click HERE .
The airport on the holiday island of Bali has reopened after tens of thousands of travelers were stranded for two days due to an erupting volcano, but Indonesia's President said the danger has not passed and urged anyone within the mountain's exclusion zone to get out "for the sake of their safety." Mount Agung’s hazard zone has up to 100,000 people that are called to evacuate the area around the crater, however only 43,000 people have followed the order. Villagers around the Bali Volcano are refusing to leave despite warnings of an “imminent” larger eruption, with the state of emergency extended to at least December 10. HOPEww is on the ground and is closely monitoring the situation for ways to provide relief.
Prayers for Indonesia!
Mount Agung on the Indonesian island of Bali continues to release volcanic ashes after several days of eruptions. Ash and debris are shooting as high as two miles high causing mass spread of hazardous pollutants into the air. As many as 40,000 residents are encouraged to take shelter away from the danger zone. The international airport has been shut down and many people are in need of shelter and essential supplies.
Our own Charles Ham, Disaster Response Coordinator, and the HOPEww rapid response team are on the scene. They rushed to deliver masks and assess the situation on the ground. Many of the residents need food, shelter, blankets and possibly health care depending on the severity of the upcoming days. We ask for your prayers for these individuals who are experiencing this displacement right now. Please pray for their safety, for their needs to be met and for our staff and volunteers to have the wisdom and the resources to help them in the best way possible.
Come join us in 2018 as we learn to walk “In His Steps”! We are excited to offer 27 life-changing trips all over the world throughout 2018! Many of our most popular sites fill up within the first month of registration so to increase your chance of getting your top choice, make sure to apply early! This year most of our programs are open to all – teens, campus, singles and families.
Click here to take a look at the detailed site descriptions to learn more about HOPE Youth Corps, HOPEww Volunteer Corps, HOPEww Medical Corps and HOPEww Agriculture Corps sites. Many of these sites are open to all! If you're single and want to learn more about our 2018 HOPEww Singles Corps sites - including our Houston Singles Disaster Corps - click here. Some sites have specific age restrictions. Most North America trips (Canada, U.S., and Mexico) are open to all teens 15 years old and above. The minimum age for U.S. teens is 18 to go on all other trips. Non-U.S. teens can travel internationally from the age of 15.
Our 2018 theme will be “In His Steps”, and our curriculum will be based on the book of Mark.
There will be scholarships available for teens and campus students who need financial assistance. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
As we travel to foreign countries to serve and learn, we encounter amazing individuals, whose lives have been transformed by the work of HOPE worldwide . We strongly believe in respectful service. On our Volunteer Corps, we assist existing programs, and provide additional help. We do contribute, but we also learn from the incredibly resilient individuals we meet. While serving in Africa these past few months, we met these courageous women…
Matching Gift Challenge!
Challenge accepted!! Recently, a member of our community challenged our supporters and friends to raise a total of $50,000 by December 31, 2017 for HYC Scholarships. Our generous donor will match what we raise dollar-for-dollar! The money raised to meet this challenge will help students experience this amazing program.
Double the impact of your gift by donating today!
Here is how you can get
Every year, hundreds of students volunteer their time to plant, rebuild, mentor, train and encourage. Thank you for making it possible for those with limited financial resources to share in this incredible opportunity to serve those in need.
Click here for our HYC Scholarship Fund Brochure.
Please help us SPREAD THE WORD and share with a friend .
Any questions please contact:
Churches in South Florida are continuing to bring hope to Bolivia through the 5th annual “Celebration of Caring Golf Classic.” The fundraiser is scheduled for Friday, November 17 on Key Biscayne off of the Miami mainland.
The Golf Classic benefits HOPE worldwide Bolivia, providing funding for programs that serve Bolivia’s children and most vulnerable populations. Since HOPEww was established in 2011 in the capital city of La Paz, the country’s health care and social services systems have been positively impacted. The tournament has raised $157,000 since its inception!
There are six levels of sponsorships ($1,500 - $5,000), and individuals can golf for $225. All information is included on the website ( www.CelebrationofCaring.com ), including a registration portal and links to videos, stories and blogs about the work in La Paz. Individuals can also donate through the website.
The Crandon Park golf course is considered one of the most picturesque in Florida. Golfers are surrounded by tropical foliage, mangroves and breathtaking views of Biscayne Bay as they encounter seven saltwater lakes and challenging sand traps during their round.
Former Florida residents Dr. Kevin & Noelle Broyles lead HOPE worldwide Bolivia. The Duke-educated Dr. Broyles was behind the building of Centro Médico Internacional Hope Clinic in Bolivia, a cutting-edge sustainable social enterprise that will generate revenue to meet increasing medical needs in the La Paz community. CMIHope is the result of a joint effort between Foundation Arco Iris and HOPE worldwide that integrates high quality health services to the population of Zona Sur of La Paz with financial support to the charitable work of HOPEww and Hospital Arco Iris, who partner to serve Bolivia’s large indigent population.
“Celebration of Caring” welcomes all golfers to join in this “fun”draiser.
It’s taken me a long time to process what happened in Africa. I’ve been home for over a month. It didn’t help that two days after returning to the States, I was thrown back into the routine of starting a new school year, half asleep and still hungover from a three week adrenaline rush. And it didn’t help that as soon as I got back, people were asking about the trip – “How was Africa?” “Did you get sick?” “How was the food?” “Were you scared?” “We’ve been praying for you.”
I was overwhelmed and frustrated with their simple question. “How was Africa, how was Africa?” I didn’t want to diminish the effect this trip had on my heart by spewing out words that didn’t give it justice. I didn’t want people to ask, because I wasn’t ready to answer. My standard answer to people asking became “It was amazing!”. I tried to leave it at that, though in saying it, I felt both trivial and fake. It was amazing, but that wasn’t enough.
There is no perfect way to describe serving in Africa. I guess I can start by telling the story of how my family came to be there. After all, the ‘getting to Africa’ had a huge impact on my life, as well. January 1st of every year I choose a spiritual quality that I want to grow in, and I work on it for that year. This year, I decided I wanted to grow in my faith. Through the process of getting to Africa, I did grow in my faith.
This year I was realizing that it is very easy to be faithful when you have everything you need. I wanted God to test my faith, and to help me grow in it. I had no idea of how he would do this, but I fully believed he would do it.
Africa had never been on my bucket list (and I’d never heard of Zambia!). But I guess God had other plans, because a Bible study at our home led to an idea, which became a conversation, which quickly turned into a vision. And that vision was that Dru and I take our girls and go with the HOPEww Volunteer Corps to Zambia, Africa to renovate a preschool. The project was such a great fit for our entire family. It was obvious God had his hand in it. Dru is an electrician/plumber/handyman, who was perfect for building renovations. I am a teacher, able to help with teacher training and planning in the classroom. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. It fit in a perfect window in our summer vacation.
We have 27 trips all over the world throughout the year.
Registration opens on December 1, 2017.
Apply early to ensure you get your top
choice. Some of our more popular trips fill up within the first month of
registration. The Houston Singles Disaster Corps will open registration sooner,
as the program will take place early in the year (February).
Our 2018 theme will be “In His Steps”, and our curriculum will be based on the book of Mark.
So start planning, and start saving! There will be scholarships available for teens and campus students who need financial assistance.